The Countdown is On…

Four months to go. Four months of my maternity leave is left. 118 days until I’m sitting in my office and my sweet baby boy is in the care of someone else.

I know that seems like a long time away, and I know that I’m incredibly lucky to live in a country where I’m able to spend a full year with my son. But to me, it’s not nearly long enough and my time at home with him is slipping away, day by day.

I’ve been thinking about it a lot lately. And by thinking about it, I mean completely obsessing over it. I go through endless options in my head, trying to think of a way that I can put off going back to work for at least another year or two. With daycare coming in at a whopping $1100 per month, there is more than just emotional incentive for me to stay at home. It seems ridiculous that I will be spending my days aching to see my little boy, and paying someone half of my monthly pay cheque for the benefit of it.

With seemingly no other option, I try to think of the benefits of daycare. He’ll get to socialize with other children his own age, something that he rarely does hanging out at home with me all day. He’ll take part in a variety of enriching activities (I’m actually quite happy with where he’ll be going; they have a full calendar of pretty cool daily activities including dance, arts, different languages, and gardening). Our time together, although limited, will be so much more special.

But (no matter what, I always come up with a “but”) he won’t be with me all day. Someone else will be there for milestones like his first words and possibly his first steps. They’ll get to know him day in  day out. I’ll get him up in the morning and put him to bed at night, and the rest of the day he’ll be with someone else. The thought of it is heart wrenching.

I have so many questions that no one can answer. Will he hate it? Will he cry when I drop him off and when I pick him up? Will he start to forget about me? Will he no longer consider me his primary caretaker? Will we still know each other as well as we do now, and have the same bond? Will the daycare providers treat him with the same love and respect that I do?

I hate it. I hate that I have to hand him over to someone else and trust that they’ll care for him the way that I would (which no one ever will or could). I hate that I’m going to be sitting in my office for eight hours a day answering mindless questions and doing work that is completely inconsequential when I should be caring for my baby. I would do anything to not have to go back to work. But (!) even with the exorbitant cost of child care, we still can’t afford to exist on one income.

So, for now, I’ll count down the days and try not to think too much about what’s coming up at the end of October. Being sad all day now will just ruin the last months that I have at home with him. I know that lots of people place their kids in full-time daycare and it works out. I’m sure it will get easier as time goes on, and I’m sure it won’t be nearly as awful as I’m imagining. I just wish that there were some other way.

 

5 Ways That I Feel Like Less of a Mom

I don’t know why, but eight months into this parenting adventure I still hesitate to call myself a mom. I clearly am one, but I feel like I haven’t earned the right to use that label yet. For some reason I have this idea in my head that our “momness” can be evaluated on a scale, and I just don’t measure up. It makes absolutely no sense, but here are some of the reasons why.

I feel like less of a mom…

London, England Caesearian Surgery, obstetrici...

London, England Caesearian Surgery, obstetricians at work. This is an edit of the original image, reducing colour and luminosity noise. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

…because I had a c-section. It was an emergency section and probably saved my baby’s life, but I still feel like I cheated. I feel like moms who give birth vaginally, and especially naturally, really earn their stripes. I can’t even count the number of women who tell me that they wish they would have had a c-section, as if it were the easy way out. Maybe that’s why I feel this way. I know that undergoing major surgery wasn’t easy, physically or emotionally, but it still makes me feel like less of a mom.

…because I only have one baby. I know that most moms only start out with one, but I feel like I have no right to complain about being tired or busy with only one baby. My mom had twins when I was 18 months old. Now she can probably tell you about being tired and busy. I feel like an amateur compared to moms with two or three or more kids.

…because my baby is so young. I barely know anything about being a mom. My baby’s needs right now are fairly basic. He’s not even mobile. I haven’t yet entered the arenas of tantrums and schoolwork and adolescence. Moms who have been through all that can really see the big picture and know what it truly means to be a parent.

…because I’m going back to work. Out of financial necessity, when my baby is one year old I will be returning to work and he will be in daycare. I’ve heard people ask why someone would have kids if they’re just going to have someone else raise them. I hate to say it, but I don’t totally disagree with that statement. My son’s daycare provider is going to be there for his first steps, his first words, and all sorts of other firsts. I’m going to miss out on so much. It makes me feel like a crappy mom.

…because I’m not breast-feeding. I feel like I’ve beaten this subject to death, so I won’t get into great detail again, but I envy moms who can breast-feed their kids. I feel like they have a connection with their babies that I’ll never have. It makes me feel like less of a woman and definitely less of a mom.

I know that I’m new to motherhood and that obviously I don’t have the experience and perspective that seasoned moms have. I know that it’s not a competition and that I have no one that I need to measure up to, but sometimes it feels that way. I think that I just need to accept myself and my limitations, be thankful for what I do have, and not be afraid to call myself a mom.

Time

equation of time in minutes for sundials: - = ...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Since I’ve become a mom, my relationship with time has changed. The world used to be so orderly. Minutes were minutes, months were months. I didn’t wish for time to go by more quickly or more slowly, I just existed and progressed through life in a linear fashion.

From the moment that I found out that I was pregnant, I have been so much more conscious of time. Having lost my first pregnancy, I was über-aware of how far along in my second pregnancy I was at any given moment. I was so worried about losing the baby that I prayed for time to speed up, to rush me to my due date so that I could meet my baby. Those nine months felt like years.

Once my baby arrived, my sense of order disappeared. There were no more days or nights. There were no week days or weekends. There was just a whole year of maternity leave stretched out ahead of me, where every day was exactly the same. Days started to seem like they lasted forever. I would wake up every morning, completely unsure about how I was going to keep my baby happy for a full day. I would muddle through the days, watching the clock, waiting for 5:00 pm when my partner would come home. I would anxiously wait for milestones to arrive: my baby’s first smile, his first laugh, sitting up for the first time. Day by day, it would seem like nothing ever changed. But then I would look at him and he would look so grown up, and I would wonder when that happened.

When he turned six months old, all of a sudden I stopped wishing the time away. I wasn’t in a hurry for him to reach the next stage. I was half way through my maternity leave and facing the reality that I would have to return to work and leave my baby with someone else during the day. Every minute was suddenly precious. Every new skill that he learned was evidence that I was closer to the end of my leave. With every giggle and cuddle I was reminded that pretty soon it would be someone else comforting him and making him laugh. I wanted him and time to slow down. I wanted more time with my baby.

He’s now almost eight months old and changing every day. He’s turning into such a little person. He makes jokes and has definite likes and dislikes. He loves me and his dad and is wary of strangers, and is starting to eat real food. Every day, he’s turning into more of a little boy and less of a baby. And I still have a complicated relationship with time.

There are things that I can’t wait for. It will be nice when he can talk so that he can communicate to us what he wants. It will be fun when he can walk so that we can play outside and he can help me dig in my garden. But I also know that once these baby days are gone, they’ll be gone forever. I’ll never have another year of dedicated time where it’s just me and him every day. I won’t always be able to protect him by keeping him close to me all the time. He’s going to have to go out into the world and he’ll get hurt and there’s nothing that I can do about it.

So I try to live in each moment. When he wakes up at night and needs me to cuddle him back to sleep, I try not to get annoyed. One day that will end, and I’ll remember the sweet moments as I rocked him in the corner of his room and he tried to put his pacifier in my mouth. I no longer wait anxiously for his dad to get home from work. I keep us busy during the day, trying to do as much as we can while I’m still at home.

It’s hard not to wish for time to speed up or slow down when you have kids. Each stage of their development comes with things that you wish would last forever, and things that you can’t wait to end. But I know now that even the things that I thought I hated, I look back on fondly. The sleepless nights, so unbearable when he was a newborn, now make me nostalgic for late night cuddle sessions where he would rest his head on my shoulder and it was just me and him in the dark, quiet world. Where I was once so anxious to get rid of his big, bulky baby equipment, now that I’m faced with having to part with it, it makes me sad. I know that once he starts talking, I’ll miss his babbling gibberish and the days when I could say “ba ba ba ba” and make him laugh.

When you’re a parent, time is distorted and perceptions change as the weeks and months fly by. What has your relationship been like with time?